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Health and Social Services Glossary of Acronyms

Health and Social Services Glossary of Acronyms

This glossary was intended to help lay people to understand what people in health and social care are talking about when they use acronyms. It has a regional bias towards Manchester, but jargon in the rest of the UK is not very different.  I have tried to include Scottish, Irish, and Welsh terms. I must thank Mervyn Monks of South Gloucestershire LINk who contributed a substantial collection of new acronyms. I have, I am afraid, stopped updating the list, as Google seems to work well enough for terms that are in current use.

Terms included are mostly those discussed by managers and politicians (usually because they cost money) or which you may find included in medical notes.  If you are looking for information about a medical condition you might like to try UK Self Help, which has a very good list of helpful organisations, mostly run by people by people with personal experience of the condition. They are also very helpful in understanding exactly what people mean when they use unfamiliar words.

It would be better if people spell out exactly what they mean, at least the first time round, but they don’t, so I hope this list will help. If you are on the receiving end of incomprehensible documents supposedly produced for the public or for users of services please complain. Managers can get help if they can’t manage to communicate with ordinary mortals.

Some of the explanations in the glossary are a bit quick and dirty, so may give an inaccurate picture, particularly of complex organisations. Some are doctors’ slang or offensive – or both – but as you may find them in your notes I make no apology for including them. And a few are internet terms, but they get everywhere these days

You can find other glossaries on the Internet. This one is designed for lay people interested in the British National Health Service and welfare state. Most of the others are designed for professionals. Acronyms And Initialisms For Health Information Resources compiled by Marie-Lise Antoun is the most impressive multilingual list, but hers, like this one, is not longer updated.  Allglossary has 1702 glossaries listed in 242 Categories, and Acronym Finder claims to have 186,000 entries in its database. So this is pretty modest by comparison. For clinical stuff BioMedSearchseems a pretty comprehensive database. The Guardian has produced a useful list of NHS jargon and acronyms.

Plain English

There are a number of organisations which will help official organisations to communicate clearly.

Health and Social Services Glossary of Acronyms

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3Ns Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland Mental Health NHS Trust (obs)